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Sun & Steel

Yukio Mishima

Top 10 Best Quotes

“Do I, then, belong to the heavens? Why, if not so, should the heavens Fix me thus with their ceaseless blue stare, Luring me on, and my mind, higher Ever higher, up into the sky, Drawing me ceaselessly up To heights far, far above the human? Why, when balance has been strictly studied And flight calculated with the best of reason Till no aberrant element should, by rights, remain- Why, still, should the lust for ascension Seem, in itself, so close to madness? Nothing is that can satify me; Earthly novelty is too soon dulled; I am drawn higher and higher, more unstable, Closer and closer to the sun's effulgence. Why do these rays of reason destroy me? Villages below and meandering streams Grow tolerable as our distance grows. Why do they plead, approve, lure me With promise that I may love the human If only it is seen, thus, from afar- Although the goal could never have been love, Nor, had it been, could I ever have Belonged to the heavens? I have not envied the bird its freedom Nor have I longed for the ease of Nature, Driven by naught save this strange yearning For the higher, and the closer, to plunge myself Into the deep sky's blue, so contrary To all organic joys, so far From pleasures of superiority But higher, and higher, Dazzled, perhaps, by the dizzy incandescence Of waxen wings. Or do I then Belong, after all, to the earth? Why, if not so, should the earth Show such swiftness to encompass my fall? Granting no space to think or feel, Why did the soft, indolent earth thus Greet me with the shock of steel plate? Did the soft earth thus turn to steel Only to show me my own softness? That Nature might bring home to me That to fall, not to fly, is in the order of things, More natural by far than that improbable passion? Is the blue of the sky then a dream? Was it devised by the earth, to which I belonged, On account of the fleeting, white-hot intoxication Achieved for a moment by waxen wings? And did the heavens abet the plan to punish me? To punish me for not believing in myself Or for believing too much; Too earger to know where lay my allegiance Or vainly assuming that already I knew all; For wanting to fly off To the unknown Or the known: Both of them a single, blue speck of an idea?”

“Was I ignorant, then, when I was seventeen? I think not. I knew everything. A quarter-century's experience of life since then has added nothing to what I knew. The one difference is that at seventeen I had no 'realism'.”

“The cynicism that regards hero worship as comical is always shadowed by a sense of physical inferiority.”

“I am one who has always been interested only in the edges of the body and the spirit, the outlying regions of the body and the outlying regions of the spirit. The depths hold no interest for me; I leave them to others, for they are shallow, commonplace. What is there, then, at the outer most edge? Nothing, perhaps, save a few ribbons, dangling down into the void.”

“It is a rather risky matter to discuss a happiness that has no need of words.”

“However, as words become particularized, and as men begin - in however small a way - to use them in personal, arbitrary ways, so their transformation into art begins. It was words of this kind that, descending on me like a swarm of winged insects, seized on my individuality and sought to shut me up within it. Nevertheless, despite the enemy's depredations upon my person, I turned their universality - at once a weapon and a weakness - back on them, and to some extent succeeded in using words to universalize to my own individuality.”

“How dearly, indeed, I loved my pit, my dusky room, the area of my desk with its piles of books! How I enjoyed introspection, shrouded myself in cogitation; with what rapture did I listen for the rustling of frail insects in the thickets of my nerves!”

“Only through the group, I realised — through sharing the suffering of the group — could the body reach that height of existence that the individual alone could never attain. And for the body to reach that level at which the divine might be glimpsed, a dissolution of individuality was necessary. The tragic quality of the group was also necessary, the quality that constantly raised the group out of the abandon and torpor into which it was prone to lapse, leading it to an ever-mounting shared suffering and so to death, which was the ultimate suffering. The group must be open to death — which meant, of course, that it must be a community of warriors.”

“For me, beauty is always retreating from one’s grasp: the only thing I consider important is what existed once, or ought to have existed.”

“The groups of muscles that have become virtually unnecessary in modern life, though still a vital element of a man’s body, are obviously pointless from a practical point of view, and bulging muscles are as unnecessary as a classical education is to the majority of practical men. Muscles have gradually become something akin to classical Greek. To revive the dead language, the discipline of the steel was required; to change the silence of death into the eloquence of life, the aid of steel was essential.”

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Book Keywords:

warriors, youthful-arrogance, beauty, unity, icarus, poem, strength, community

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